Brave, new world

Electric rates: Governor made right move to sign bill so consumers can choose power provider.

April 04, 1999

STATE lawmakers deserve credit for passing a farsighted deregulation bill that will allow Marylanders -- businesses and homeowners -- to choose their own electric-power provider. The competitive nature of a free-market economy tends to drive prices down. There's every reason to believe it will happen with electric prices, too.

Gov. Parris N. Glendening opposed this bill, threatening a veto if he didn't get environmental and consumer concessions. He wisely reversed course Friday. This measure, which is both thoughtful and cautious, puts Maryland in line with nearby states that are deregulating electric power. Under the bill, technical problems are left to the Public Service Commission. That was a wise move. The PSC has ably balanced the needs of individuals, businesses and electric utilities. The commissioners have the expertise to implement deregulation fairly.

Maryland could not afford to be left behind in the electric deregulation race. It would have put local businesses at a disadvantage and prodded some of them to locate their plants in more business-friendly states. Homeowners, too, deserve to have the freedom to pick their own electric vendor.

Competition will be good for the electric industry. Sweeping, veto-proof votes in the legislature were a telling sign the governor had to approve this bill. Its passage is a positive step for Maryland.

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